How Freedom Of Expression Was Both Make & Break For Too Faced
Founded in 1998 by partners Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson, Too Faced states that its main goal has always been to inject joy back into the beauty industry. From glitter eyeshadow to plumping lip injection gloss — Too Faced is known for its fun, exuberant approach to branding and product creation.
With memorable (and often hyperbolic) product names, Too Faced has spent the last 20+ years on the cutting-edge of makeup and beauty trends. A favorite among beauty influencers and everyday consumers alike, as of 2021, Too Faced is sold in more than 30 countries around the world.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth-sailing for this beauty brand. From disagreements with collaborators and tone-deaf social media posts to more serious PR scandals, Too Faced hasn’t always lived up to its own brand values. Still, the founders have made an effort to make amends and move the brand in a better direction going forward — the success of which only time will tell.
So, how did this brand go from a small, two-person business to a somewhat contentious, yet incredibly successful international powerhouse? This article will take a deep dive into Too Faced’s growth, as well as provide a few tips that other brands can use on their journey to success.
Too Faced’s Journey To Success
Before launching their own beauty brand, Blandino and Johnson spent many years working at high-end makeup counters in the 1990s. A customer favorite at Estée Lauder on Saks Fifth Avenue, Blandino hated the “boring and beige” world of makeup and, instead, worked his creative magic using free samples.
In an article for Allure, Blandino explained, saying:
“I decided to create my own items. So I would run over to Chanel and crush up a blush and mix it with an Estée Lauder lip gloss. I just created these crazy-cool things that I thought we needed. Unfortunately, Saks frowned upon the fact that I was taking your purchase of five products home, melting them in my microwave, and bringing them back in little tupperware containers.”
Understandably, Blandino’s employer wasn’t all too pleased with his creative ventures — even if their customers were. However, by leaning into his visionary ideas and artistic tendencies, Blandino was able to start making and selling his own products while still working at the Estée Lauder counter.
Disenchanted by the rigid rules and lack of individuality plaguing the beauty scene, Blandino and Johnson took a chance and officially launched Too Faced in 1998. In the brand’s first year alone, it released a stunning glitter eye shadow and launched in Sephora — some pretty big steps for such a young brand.
By 2000, the co founders moved out of their dining room and into their first real office — the Too Faced headquarters. For years, Blandino had been told his ideas were too revolutionary, but he wanted to have fun and share his enthusiasm with consumers. And over the next decade, the brand launched a handful of mega-successful products thanks to his revolutionary ideas.
First, there was “Lip Injection” — the brand’s plumping lip gloss launched in 2005. Inspired by a late-night infomercial, Lip Injection was an almost immediate success, with the brand even claiming it started “a plumping revolution”.
Over the years, Too Faced has released many subsequent versions of the Lip Injection gloss — from colored glosses to the “Lip Injection Maximum Plump”. It’s continued to sell very well despite the passage of time.
The brand’s next big hit came only a year later in the form of their “Quickie Chronicles”. One of the first paper eye shadow palettes, this product quickly took the beauty industry by storm — not just for the quality of the makeup, but for the branding as well.
You see, each “Quickie” palette featured artwork based on sensational novel covers from the 1940s and 50s, which lent each one a decidedly sexy, vintage quality. From “The Hopeless Romantic” to “The Starlette”, Too Faced’s “Quickie Chronicles” were quite the hit!
Source: Makeup Museum
Cut to 2009 and the brand launched its next big-seller: Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer. Inspired by a facial Blandino received in Hawaii, Chocolate Soleil includes real cocoa powder — which is supposed to be a great source of antioxidants and a natural mood booster.
The bronzer itself smells like chocolate and has remained one of the brand’s best sellers for years. Whimsical and purpose-driven, Too Faced sells eight additional bronzers, all for a “very important reason”, as explained in Allure:
“When Blandino’s sister was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, he set out to create beautiful, high-quality bronzers so that women would have ways to achieve a sun-kissed glow without sacrificing their health and baking in the sun.”
When it comes to their products, Blandino has done an incredible job of leveraging his own creativity and exuberant nature while maintaining the brand’s mission — encouraging customers to embrace individuality, have fun, do no harm (all cruelty-free products), and “own your pretty”.
In the 2010s, Too Faced cranked out hit after hit. From “It’s Better Than Sex!” mascara to “Born This Way” foundation to the “Sweet Peach” palette — Too Faced repeatedly wowed the world, and even “broke the internet” with consumer demand.
By 2018, the brand had expanded overseas with their first dedicated store in London on Carnaby Street, and 2019 saw the launch of Too Faced’s first skincare line, dubbed “Hangover Skincare”. The brand even grew its line of plumping glosses and added face plumper to the mix.
From expanding regionally to expanding their product offerings, Too Faced has been growing steadily and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
However, Too Faced’s journey to success hasn’t been without its fair share of challenges and mistakes. Like many other players in the beauty industry, Too Faced is no stranger to feuds and small scandals. After all — all press is good press, right? (Wrong.)
However, it got more serious in 2020 when the brand came under fire for comments made by Blandino’s sister, Lisa Blandino, about beauty blogger Nikkie De Jager. On her YouTube channel, NikkieTutorials, De Jager came out as transgender in a touching video. Shortly thereafter, Lisa Blandino saw fit to make some off-color comments about De Jager’s statement, calling her a liar.
Amid the backlash, Jerrod Blandino fired his sister from the company and made an official statement apologizing for her words and voicing his support for De Jager. While this wasn’t the first time Too Faced & De Jager clashed — there was an issue with a collaboration a few years back — Blandino made the right decision in distancing his brand from transphobic hate speech.
Though the brand and its founder have dealt with other blunders and contentious issues over the last 20 years, they have generally come out on the other side fairly unscathed. That’s not to say this brand and its founders haven’t made real mistakes- just that they’re human.
However, as long as they’re actively working to improve and live up to their brand values, there’s room for understanding and hope.
3 Lessons You Can Learn From Too Faced
Although Too Faced has been quite successful, they’ve also made their fair share of blunders.
Below, we will list three lessons this beauty brand has provided — so you can learn from both their successes and failures.
1. Your Employees Are Always Representing Your Brand
This first lesson comes from one of Too Faced’s biggest controversies — the situation with Lisa Blandino and her comments about Nikkie De Jager. They were cruel and petty and very much so not in line with the brand values Too Faced claims to have.
While freedom of expression is important, as a brand, you cannot tolerate employees who spout hateful comments while representing you. After all, brand values are not suggestions that only apply Monday — Friday from 9–5. They are the principles that guide your brand and your employees at all times — even in their personal lives on social media. Though it may not be fair to expect employees to be on their best behavior at all times, their actions in their personal lives can and will affect your brand.
The Takeaway: While you cannot control what your employees post and share on their personal social media accounts, you need to make it clear that they’re always representing your brand — especially if they have a rather important position, as in the case with Lisa Blandino.
Blandino and Johnson made the right call by firing Lisa and distancing themselves and their brand from her actions. It was also a good move to issue a statement in support of De Jager that reaffirmed their brand values and aligned themselves with a more inclusive worldview.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Break Boundaries
A great deal of Too Faced’s success comes from Blandino’s disregard for boundaries and dedication to his own creative vision. In an interview with Sephora, Blandino explained what inspired him to launch Too Faced:
“I first started in the industry working behind the makeup counter and at the time in the 90’s (when) everything was so boring and beige. My biggest challenges were being told no (Which I’ve always refused to accept)! ‘No, glitter in eyeshadow won’t work’ — I pushed the limits at the lab and created the world’s first-ever glitter eyeshadow. ‘No, Better Than Sex is not an appropriate product name’ — It is the number 1 selling prestige mascara in America.”
As we can see, Blandino was used to being told his ideas were too revolutionary or too inappropriate. But he didn’t give in to his critics and continued on with his own vision. This lack of fear surrounding conventions and boundaries is one of the things that helped make Too Faced so successful.
The Takeaway: When building your own brand, don’t be afraid to follow your own vision and break necessary boundaries. No truly revolutionary brand played it safe — they stayed true to their vision and didn’t let other peoples’ fears sway them.
3. Your Brand Image Is Everything
Brand image — aka consumers’ general perception of a brand and its products — is incredibly important.
How consumers perceive your brand dictates how successful you will be. And while you can (and should) work hard to create, shape, and control your brand image, it’s not always that easy.
You see, brand image is a combination of your own brand strategy/actions and how consumers feel about your brand. And because you can only control one part of that equation, brand image can make or break a company.
The brand image that Too Faced has cultivated is fun, sassy, joyful, and unapologetic. From its product designs and names to its whimsical website, Too Faced presents a consistent, well-integrated brand image.
Furthermore, the brand also claims brand consideration of 18% for women and 21% for female Millennials. Clearly, consumers are connecting with Too Faced and its brand image — which is a big part of its success.
The Takeaway: Never underestimate the power of brand image. It’s one of the main factors that sets you apart from your competitors and helps consumers identify you immediately.
By creating a brand image that is consistent and strong across all consumer touchpoints, you will increase your brand’s overall awareness and equity.
Too Faced hasn’t always been a model brand — they’ve made mistakes, seen the error of their ways, and dealt with the fallout. Keep in mind: no brand will reach such a level of success without a mistake or two of its own.
However, Too Faced has also been incredibly successful and, under the brand vision of Blandino and Johnson, will continue to break boundaries in the beauty industry for years to come.
If you’re looking to build your own brand, keep our above lessons in mind. And if you want access to nuanced consumer insights like we provided above, consider adding brand tracking software to your portfolio — it will make all the difference.
Originally published at https://latana.com.